In 2007, my world turned upside down. Although my husband had suffered from worsening heart disease for several years before that, it wasn’t until the week he died that I realized I was going to lose him. I was 53, working full-time, one of my three children still at home and in the throes of grief. Nothing about my life made sense.
I decided to do what all the experts say not to—I made a major life change. I started a two-year course with the Christian Writer’s Guild. I’d always written and wanted to pursue it more, but life got in the way. The course changed me, and during the second year, I discovered I could write fiction, which blew me away. I went on to complete two more courses with them and had the input of amazing authors. I published articles, started a blog, wrote a novel, went to conferences, and continually worked to become a better writer.
This year has been another “turn my world upside down” year. Besides the pandemic, which has turned everyone’s world upside down, I retired. Three people who were special to me died of COVID-19. I finally started my website and moved my blog there. I’m transitioning my role from Advocate (my job) to supporting and advocating online. I also plan, this fall, to plot my next novel and begin to write it (again!)
Last week I officially retired from my job. I look forward to more time to write as well.
How did eldercare become your passion?
The short answer is: through working with them. In the 21 years I worked with elderly, I met wonderful people who changed me forever, bitter individuals who taught me how not to respond to life circumstances and many “characters” who generated great stories and taught me to laugh. I had many positions, but my title in the last years was Advocate. I supported the care partners who worked tirelessly to care for the elderly, their families and the elderly themselves.
I saw a gap. My residence had always esteemed the elderly. In the last several years they’d learned to respect and elevate the position of the care partners who looked after them. But the families…Those of us who worked as Advocates supported the families through admission to palliative care and death, but most homes didn’t have advocates or something similar. Families experienced unnecessary stress because of a lack of support. It became my dream to bring my blog to a place where I can support a wider audience.
This is so wonderful. Both of my parents had to transition to care facilities. Dad is gone but mom is now in a skilled care facility. With the pandemic, it makes things so much more difficult for caregivers. I so appreciate you.
Now let’s talk about your writing. What is your greatest writing challenge?
Right now, it’s SEO, search engine optimization. How to find my audience and have them find me? I’m trying to learn without spending more money, as setting up the web site was an investment. Second would be actually getting paid to write. Everything on the blog is free but I’m trying to submit more articles. Like many writers, I shy from marketing. Trying to push myself out of that comfort zone at least once each week.
I can so relate to the difficulty of marketing. I find it so much easier to help others. You have a passion in a specific niche. May God bless your search.
What inspired you to write the book you just finished?
The Trouble With Mom explores the journey of a dysfunctional family when their strong, choleric mother is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. The protagonist, Marg always struggled with feelings of insecurity when it came to her relationship with her mother, but now found herself at odds with her siblings, her husband, and her daughter. While looking through paperwork at her mother’s house, Marg discovered the missing piece which explained everything and gave her insight into the trouble with Mom.
The families I worked with provided my inspiration. Most had some relationship problems before they became caregivers and the stresses of that journey exacerbated it. Fear made them angry and entitled, worry caused them to fight among themselves. Through developing a trusting relationship, I was able to support them and allay their worries and fears, but what about those families who had no advocate? That thought was my inspiration. My book is not published. YET.
Sounds like a great premise. And there are a lot of boomers out there in this situation. I look forward to reading it when it comes out.
When did you realize your calling to create words on paper to share with the world?
In grade three I realized I could write (and I couldn’t do math!) but sometime during that first course with Christian Writer’s Guild, I caught a vision. I could write, be published, and make a difference. Wow!
I took that course. I understand the feeling.
Is there a favorite verse that resonates with you?
“For I know the plans I have for you” declares the Lord. “Plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future.”
I believe God plans to use me, and that’s incredibly exciting!
What is your favorite genre to read for fun?
I love Christian fiction. When my church library closed with the pandemic I was bereft for several weeks until I discovered how to get free audiobooks online. Now I can do my housework and read at the same time! I learn from other authors and hopefully, it helps me improve my craft.
I’m about to make the leap to listening to audiobooks myself. Everyone I know who have loved the experience.
Now please tell us about your blog.
Started in 2012, Small Miracles seeks to provide support to those who care for elders. Do you give hands-on care? Are you a professional caregiver? Are you family of someone living in a care setting? Or perhaps you volunteer or have a friend you visit occasionally? Every one of these scenarios is a “care partner”—part of the team who cares for that person. My mission, through the blog, is to provide education, support, and resources to support you.
The name, Small Miracles, came from my belief that although the journey of the care partner is difficult, God supplies small miracles along the way to give us joy, if we look for them.
More about Ann:
As someone who worked among the elderly for 21 years, Ann Peachman Stewart developed a passion for respectful eldercare which provides purpose and growth to the end of life. In that time, she gathered a treasury of experiences and stories, some of which play out in the lives of her characters. In supporting families as they take on the role of caring for an elder, Ann empathizes with their confusion and fear and how it manifests. Dysfunctional families can become more so and relationships may become strained. She reaches deep to find both compassion and the ability to have difficult conversations. Her sideways sense of humor keeps her sane and she brings the richness of these experiences to her novel and blog.
Ann, writing from a Christian perspective, recognizes that people of faith, like other humans, sometimes fail when facing a crisis. She strives to bring authenticity to her characters as they stumble, learn, and grow.
Ann Peachman Stewart began her career with no education in this field but later obtained her Certificate in Gerontology with Ryerson University. A life-long learner, she completed the Apprentice, Journeyman and Craftsman courses with The Christian Writer’s Guild. She won awards for her fiction and non-fiction writing through Florida Christian Writer’s Conference and has been a Word Weaver’s president since 2011. She lives in Mississauga, Ontario, Canada and is owned by a dog named Teddy.
Visit Ann on social media.
Facebook Author Page:
Ann is doing a very special give away for September. A stress reliever box valued at $20. Click on the link below and refer a friend for another chance. Click the link in her social media list above to follow Small Miracle of you are interested in her eldercare help.